Classic Movie Memories

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the release of Gone with the Wind in Detroit and many other cities, after being released in Atlanta and New York City in late 1939.

To mark the occasion, the Redford Theatre hosted several screenings of the movie that also included personal appearances by one of the few remaining living members of the cast, along with an expert on the history of the movie.

In Gone with the Wind, Mickey Kuhn played Beau Wilkes, the son of Ashley Wilkes (played by Leslie Howard) and Melanie Wilkes (Olivia de Havilland, another still-living cast member).

In his opening remarks at the Redford on April 17, 2015, Mickey jokingly talked about how his first scene occurs more than 200 minutes into a nearly four-hour movie. His most famous scene is when he cries after his mother dies.

Mickey talked about many of his Gone with the Wind experiences, including the trouble he had remembering his lines in a scene with Clark Gable.

After Gone with the Wind, Mickey had a reasonably good career as a young actor. He also appeared with John Wayne in the 1948 western Red River, as the young version of the Matt Garth character that was played as an adult by Montgomery Clift.

Mickey’s appearance in Red River impressed me greatly, because of my great admiration for that movie.

In that movie, Mickey played a very pivotal role, when he asserts himself strongly in his first meeting with John Wayne. In a speech to the audience, Mickey jokingly said that he hasn’t washed his right hand since 1946, when John Wayne shook that hand and thanked Mickey for his work on Red River.

At an autograph table in the Redford front lobby, I told Mickey how much I liked Red River and had him sign an autographed picture of him, John Wayne, and Walter Brennan on the Red River set. Mickey told me how got to watch all the Arizona filming of Red River, even though he had just a small part.

Mickey also played a small role in the 1951 drama A Streetcar Named Desire, which, like Gone with the Wind, starred Vivien Leigh in an Oscar-winning performance.

On the set of Streetcar, Mickey said that Vivien Leigh asked him to come to her dressing room. Mickey was at first worried, because he might have done something to offend her, but she instead remembered him from Gone with the Wind and wanted to know how his career and life were going. Mickey said he was tremendously flattered by this attention from “Lady Olivier,” as he called her.

Also appearing at the Redford was Gone with the Wind expert Kathleen Marcaccio, who helped draw a tremendous crowd to the Redford for another screening of Gone with the Wind in 2012. She was the stage host for the evening, and both she and Mickey received a warm welcome and thanks from the Redford crowd.

Detroit Movie Palaces Home Page

Copyright © 2015 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

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